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STUDIO: Lions Gate
RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes
• Special Delivery: Transporters in the Real World featurette
• Commentary by director Olivier Megaton
• Set & Production Design featurette
• Special F/X featurette
• Making of Transporter 3 featurette
• Digital copy of the film
Rule #1: Steal from the first film, hope for the best.
Jason Statham, Natalya Rudakova, Francois Berleand, Robert Knepper, Jeroen Krabbe
Frank Martin is seemingly trying to enjoy the quiet, semi-retired life in France with his pal, Inspector Tarconi. But he gets forcefully pulled back into the world of high-stakes transporting by a ruthless American toxic waste merchant, who has a package he needs delivered. Accompanying him for reasons to be discovered is a young Ukrainian party girl, Valentina. To ensure delivery, Johnson has rigged it so that if Frank gets further away than 75 feet away from his car, a bracelet with explosives threatens to ruin his 100% success rate.
I’m an unapologetic fan of the first Transporter and Jason Statham is pretty much my favorite action star working today. Transporter 2 was different enough to be interesting, although still a step down from the first. This third film in the series is a hackneyed attempt to keep a good thing going, yet failing quite well. The first reason is that Louis LeTerrier had bigger things to do (literally: Incredible Hulk) than a third film and the new guy, Olivier Megaton, while able to stage some good sequences at times, ain’t Louis LeTerrier.
“Look, if this about Dungeon Siege, I can explain…”
The basic premise is that an American named Johnson (Knepper) has some leverage on Ukrainian Minister Leonid Vasilev in order to make him sign a contract allowing for the import of toxic waste to Ukraine, which is currently steaming its way there. Knepper hired a friend of Frank’s named Malcolm to do some driving for him, but Malcolm got stopped by the French authorities and had to crash at Frank’s, literally. Due to an explosive bracelet, Malcolm didn’t get much of a chance to explain. Frank is then “hired” for the same job by Johnson, a job he previously turned down, along with a half dozen of Johnson’s men when they wouldn’t take no for an answer. The terms of the job are that Frank drive a package using a coded GPS Johnson installed in his car. Frank is also sporting one of the bracelets that go boom if he gets more than 75 feet from the car. Accompanying him on the trip for no apparent reason is Valentina (Rudakova), an Eastern European party girl, still in her party dress, who also has a piece of exploding jewelry.
“What, no oil?”
Frank knows that he won’t survive the job unless he gets some answers. When he tries to hole up at his friend Otto’s garage, Johnson sends a platoon of goons to get him back on the road. The customary Frank-on-army fight ensues, but when it’s all over, Frank finds out from Otto that the transmitter for the detonator can’t be removed from the car, so he’s screwed. Along the way, Valentina and Frank start bonding, as she’s a flighty party girl stuck in the same situation. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that she’s the package, which Frank eventually discovers himself. An admittedly thrilling car chase from some men determined to get Valentina and another chase involving Frank on a BMX bike trying to stay within the bracelet’s distance keep the adrenalin going until Frank delivers Valentina to Johnson in Ukraine. A plunge into a reservoir by Frank in his car and a climactic hop onto the top of the train in the car where Frank and Johnson have it out wrap things up.
“I need a transporter.”
“Ten-year-old boy, a crate of Jesus Juice.”
“Immediately. No names, correct?”
“Correct, Mr. Jackson…”
The main problem with the film is that, when it comes right down to it, there’s seemingly no reason for the bad guys to need to use Frank, other than the script saying so. Johnson even admits this before trying to blow Frank up in the bike chase sequence. And in the biggest fight sequence in the film, at Otto’s garage, rather than sending a couple of guys with guns, it has to be 10 or 12 guys with pipes. Screw expediency, we need underlings to be pounded. Frank has no set destination, only to keep Valentina moving until the contract is signed. Johnson had an army around him and seemingly wouldn’t have had any trouble keeping mobile. Plus he ran the risk of Valentina getting killed and thus losing his leverage over Vasilev. It’s lapses in logic that just undermine the entire film.
“You’re going to explode if you get any farther from the car, Frank.”
“That’s one way of putting it…”
Fortunately, Statham can carry practically any decent action film on his chiseled back. Unfortunately, there’s not much else in Transporter 3 that helps him. It’s a formulaic third entry in a series and is proof of the law of diminishing returns. It’s also an exercise in unoriginality, even recreating elements from the first film, such as the garage fight, transporting a girl and the jumping a car off of a bridge onto a moving vehicle, in this case a train rather than a truck. The explosive bracelet MacGuffin does add a new twist, both to the benefit and detriment of the film. On the one hand, it does provide an interesting plot device, but it also means that virtually the entire film takes place in or near the car. In the grand scheme, I’m not looking for the series to end, because I like Frank Martin and the Inspector. I’d actually like another Transporter flick, I’d just like a better script to complement Statham’s considerable talent. This one’s not it.
The film does look good in 2.35:1 and the sound is fine in Dolby Digital. There are two main featurettes, Special Delivery: Transporters in the Real World and The Making of Transporter 3 that total about 28 minutes and some quickie featurettes on storyboards, sets and special effects. There’s also a digital copy of the film on Disc 2.